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Cast Of Thousands
Like Asleep In The Back, Cast Of Thousands is a package wrapped lovingly in exquisite emotion, electronic unease and happy experiments.
Tanya Sweeney, 08 Aug 2003
Life must be a little strange if you’re in a band who’ve taken ten years to write and release their first album – only to find themselves thrust into the spotlight in a matter of weeks, with the world chewing at their trouser legs for the next instalment.
Ah yes, it’s called ‘Difficult Second Album Syndrome’, isn’t it? Manchester band Elbow have reacted to this pressure in much the same way they’ve taken on board label rejection and industry knock-backs in general in the past. Once again, they’ve turned their green-eyed demons into wonderful and hopeful epics.
In many instances, where a band has exploded onto the scene, their follow up album can expose a band as one trick sheisters. Not so in this case; in fact, Elbow now sound like an outfit who have toured the world and have been thrilled and repulsed by what they’ve seen in equal measure, if the imagery on ‘Snooks’ or ‘Fugitive Motel’ are anything to go by.
They are, it seems, more confident, more aware of sonic possibilities, yet thankfully still willing to try a little tenderness. Like Asleep In The Back, Cast Of Thousands is a package wrapped lovingly in exquisite emotion, electronic unease and happy experiments.
Guy Garvey’s grizzled vocals manage to be as resonant and disquieting, nowhere moreso than on ‘Ribcage’, where it’s teamed with the London Community Gospel Choir. While few tracks pack the emotional wallop as ‘Newborn’, the album is a slow burner that tugs subtly at your sleeve rather than lifting you off the ground by your jacket lapels. ‘Switching Off’ is as beautiful a space-age lullaby as any written, and the forthcoming single ‘Fallen Angel’ is an almost psychedelic buzz that is sure to be a crowd pleaser at future shows.
Follow-up album pressure, you say? Sounds like the band have barely fucking flinched. After all, pressure is the stuff, ultimately, that perfection, hope, and great second albums spring from.